Top 10 Diversions While Studying In Quito

by Kirsti Wheeler

While you’re studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador, make sure to make room in your itinerary to visit these 10 cool things to do in and around the city:

El Panecillo, Quito

El Panecillo, Quito

1. Intinan Museum

This museum is located on one of the most unique and original spots in the world: right on the equator! The Intinan is Quito’s top-rated museum, and contains exhibits playing off its unique equatorial location. Scientific experiments on forces of the equator include directing water flow on both hemispheres, and balancing an egg on a nail. Other exhibits include Inca artifacts and shrunken heads. Make sure to bring your passport with you: the museum offers a one-of-a-kind Equator stamp for it.

2. Cotopaxi Volcano

This is Ecuador’s tallest volcano. It is still active, making exploring this landmark all the more thrilling. Glaciers cover the upper part of the symmetrical cone. Trekking and camping are available, but get acclimated to heights first: the summit peaks at 19,347 feet. The volcano is surrounded by the Cotopaxi National Park.

3. Old Town Quito

This historical part of the city hearkens back to the Spanish Colonial era. The colonial architecture and narrow streets of Old Town Quito make it a perfect sightseeing destination. The neighborhood features lively plazas, historic churches, interesting museums, and interesting monasteries.

La Merced Church

La Merced Church

4. Virgin of the Americas

Also known as the “Virgin of Quito,” this one of the most recognized statues in South America. At 134.5 feet high, perched on the Panecillo hill, it is the Virgin Mary standing on top of a globe, stepping on a snake. This is one of the few statues of the Madonna that depicts her with the wings of an angel, and it is visible from most anywhere in the city. Climb up to the statue base for sweeping panoramic views of Quito and its surroundings.

5. Quito Zoo

Ecuador’s largest zoo, its primary focus is, naturally, on Ecuadorian native creatures. It also exhibits several endangered species and rare animals. What makes Quito Zoo unique is that the exhibits change frequently, making every visit a surprise. Students who are studying abroad in Quito for zoology, marine biology, or other natural sciences might find a visit to the zoo built right into their courses.

6. Otavalo Marketplace

This is the perfect place to find unique gifts and souvenirs. The marketplace is located at the foot of a volcano, located just outside Quito. Otavalo is known for its famous weavings and they are here in abundance, along with other traditional crafts, musical instruments, woodcarvings, and brightly colored textiles. The marketplace is so grand and popular that tours are available in order to gain the full experience.

7. La Mariscal District

This neighborhood is the hot spot for nightlife and live music. This district houses many different types of bars and clubs, not to mention a variety of restaurants. This is the busiest entertainment center in Quito.

Presidential Palace, Quito

Presidential Palace, Quito

8. Teleferico

These are among Quito’s newest tourist attractions. The teleferico are cable cars that bring passengers to the top of the Pichincha volcano. Riders can enjoy marvelous views of Quito and see more than 14 peaks. These cars are best ridden on a clear day.

9. Amazon Rainforest

Tours leave from Quito regularly to visit parts of the largest tropical rainforest in the world. There are several different types of tours; the most popular are bird- and wildlife-spotting tours.

10. San Rafael Waterfall

The largest water landmark in Ecuador, this majestic waterfall originates in the rainforest. There is an abundant bird population, which makes this water landmark very popular.